This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)
So, it seemed that Abel wasn't kidding about his fondness for delayed
breakfasting. The sun had already risen halfway through the sky
on a warm April morning, Saledenre had long since fed and prepared
everything she would need for the journey to the human world. But
the Poppy prince hadn't yet made an appearance, and the best time for
crossing the Hedge was fast approaching.
"Gah, Mortalia's turning me into a Grump," the Eshu muttered under her
breath, knowing full well that before she left Arcadia in search of new
and interesting tales she would never have worried so much about
time. Still, she found her feet leading her around the maze of
corridors that made up House Poppy in search of the absent prince.
Abel was not hard to find - or at least, something that was probably
Abel. As Saledenre walked down the corridor toward his room,
rustlings and clangings and cursings were quite obviously coming from
behind his door. It sounded for all the world like someone within
was taking the place apart in search of something-or-other.
Saledenre sighed and reached into the voluminous folds of her traveling
clothes. The hardy, yet beautiful, fabric rustled from the
movement as the Eshu searched for her move prized possession. The
little silver compass that she cupped in the palm of her hand was
intricately engraved but this was not what made it so special. In
a much practised movement, Saledenre flipped open the little lid to
reveal a little silver arrow that span round and round, ever so fast
until it stopped suddenly. A smile, full of mischief, planted
itself on the traveller's lips as she wondered what Abel would say if
she were to suddenly appear in his room without warning.
But then he might get frightened and make more of a mess and so take
longer, she reasoned and stowed the compass away. No, she would
have to do things by more conventional means. In two quick
strides, Saledenre was at the door and hammering loudly upon its wooden
"Abel! We're supposed to be traveling, not remodelling!" she yelled.
"Sorry!" shouted Abel from some muffled depth of the room. A few
seconds and almost as many rustles and crashes later, he made it to the
door and opened it a foot or so. Inside, Saledenre could glimpse
the principle of raw chaos itself as applied to bookshelves. Abel
himself had dragged behind him a large backpack that was already full
to bursting point with books and scrolls.
"Sorry," he repeated, seeming somewhat out of breath. "Packing's
taking a while. I've been trying to dig up everything I have on
the humans' technology; it might help while I'm there."
Saledenre tilted her head sharply to the right, a smile of bemusement making her lips twitch at the corners. He definately has not heard of a palm pilot she thought to herself. The words she spoke, however, had a little more diplomacy about them.
"How long has it been since you properly ventured into Mortalia?"
"Well, ah, what with the war and having to flee and such, it's
been... I don't know... Two and a half years? I never
did manage to calculate exactly how fast time is in the human world by
comparison. Last time I was there, they were all excited about a
new thing called a... Tel? Telly?
"...Telly-phone! That was it."
Oh no! Saledenre fought to urge to wipe her hand over her face.
"Ok, princey, hand over the bag." The storyteller held out her
hand for the carrier which was almost bursting at the seams.
Abel raised an eyebrow at "Princey", but after a few moments held the bag out to Saledenre anyway.
"This would be one of those 'I've just said something incredibly stupid' moments, wouldn't it?"
"Telephones have been around for... a while," Saledenre told him,
pulling books out of his bag, reading the titles and then (more often
than not) throwing the books back into Abel's rooms at high
velocity. She seemed completely nonplussed by the fact that some
of the books had very near misses with the prince's head while he
dodged out of the way.
"There," she said rather happy with herself, "that's better." The
bag was handed back, containing a couple of the more recent books and a
map of the London Underground carefully contained within.
Abel looked somewhat disappointed that a good three-quarters of his amassed knowledge had been spurned as out-of-date.
"I always forget," he said, "how fast things change for the
humans. It's quite annoying, I must say. Still, I suppose
I'd better have another attempt at understanding their world this time
He followed Saledenre out of his room, and closed the door behind him.
"Right then, lead on!"
Leading Abel to the stables at something of a half skip, Saledenre
listened out for the sound of her steed and was able to pin point his
presense within a moment.
"Hello you," she said over the top of the stall door, looking at the
fairy cat who looked up from the oversized ball of yarn he was playing
with. The sound of Hefin's purring reverberated through
Saledenre's body and she could not help but grin. "Ready for
The great fairy cat unfurled his wings a little, the motion
demonstrating his restlessness. It seemed that being stabled
ill-suited the animal and Saledenre sympathises.
"Do you have a steed, Prince Abel?" Saledenre asked as she opened the
stable door, allowing Hefin to walk out. She stroked the great
cat's forehead as she looked at the Poppy prince, waiting for his
"Of course," said Abel, disappearing for a few minutes around a corner
and into another stable. He returned leading a sleepy-looking
grey horse on whose saddle and harness every silver button and buckle
bore the faint traced outline of a poppy.
"I'm afraid he's not quite as, er, exotic as yours..."
"Erm..." Saledenre looked a bit concerned. "What are you going to do with it once we head through to the Other Side?"
"Well," said Abel, "If we're taking them through, I'll find a stable
for him I suppose. Shouldn't be too hard. What about yours? Unless flying cats are commonplace there now?"
Saledenre snorted and shook her head as she paused in saddling the giant cat.
"Humans rarely see things that are too out of their perception of
ordinary. Besides, Hefin's a fairy cat and has more than enough
tricks up his sleeve to go unnoticed. Well... most of the time."
The traveller frowned, remembering the newspaper articles of the Beast
of Bodmin; Hefin had been a little less careful that time round when
he'd needed to shake off the domestic cat visage and stretch his legs.
"Well, if having a horse is going to be problematic, there's no reason
why I can't leave him on this side. He can find his own way back,
Abel stepped up on a stirrup and launched himself into his horse's saddle.
"Shall we go?"
Saledenre's smile was unsettlingly toothy, like her feline steed's at
the thought of a journey ahead of them. "Are you certain you can
keep up?" she teased,
Abel smiled a knowing smile.
"I take it, then, you've not ridden one of these horses before? My lady, we'll have to see if you can keep up!"
Nonchalantly, Saledenre settled herself into the saddle and smiled
calmly at Abel. The expression completely hid the thoughts that
were turning in her mind.
Oh, a challenge. Right, princey-boy, just watch while I leave you in the dust.
There was no outward sign of command from Saledenre to Hefin and get
the great cat leapt forward, bounding out of the stable before Abel had
time to react.
Abel smiled as Saledenre sped off into the distance.
"So it's going to be like that, eh?" he said to no-one in
particular. Starfire nodded, as if he knew exactly what was going
on. He turned toward the path Saledenre and Hefin had roughly
followed, and trotted, and cantered, and galloped, and... blurred.
Over the Eshu's shoulder, Abel was far behind - but slowly but surely, catching up...
"What do you say to that, Hefin?" Saledenre cried above the wind that
was whipping against her face. "Are we going to be out manoeuvred
by a librarian on his pony?" She felt rather than heard the growl
emanating from the fairy cat's chest and laughed in reply. This
was so much fun!
Behind her, Hefin's wings unfurled and in one bound he was airborne and
gaining altitude with every sweep of his wings. They would not
continue to fly for too long; though Hefin's wings were in no was
stumpy like those of the smaller fairy cat breeds, the did not have the
span of the dragons to the north and he would begin to tire within half
an hour. It would not do to stretch him beyond that point; she
would only ever ask that of her steed when the situation was perilous
"Right, now let's see if we can see the Thinness from up here."
Her fingers were tingling, a sure sign that they were close.
Abel looked up as Hefin took to the skies, quite unable to pursue on his very much earthbound horse.
"Fine!" he shouted up to Saledenre. "You win this time, but you've gotta' come down sooner or later!"
Away to the south, the small town that surrounded Castle Poppy gave way
at first to fields, then to a wood, and further beyond that to a wide
expanse of meadow. The latter almost glittered in the late
morning sunlight, shining with an intensity that either made it look so
much more real, or so much less, depending on one's point of view...
"Down there, Hefin. You see it?"
The great cat growled and changed his course to head towards the
shimmering field. Saledenre turned in her saddle
and called down the the fairy prince below.
"You're going to have to play follow-the-leader if you want to get
where we're going." And then they were away, Hefin putting on a
burst of speed as they passed over the town and the slowing as they
reached the field next to the Thinness. Hefin bounded over the
hedge and then they were surrounded by the shimmering, waiting for Abel
to catch up.
Abel arrived not far behind, but a few minutes that sealed Saledenre's
victory and his embarrassment. He looked sufficiently sheepish as
he dismounted at the edge of the field and led his horse across the
patch of faintly shimmering air where Saledenre stood.
"Right then," Saledenre pulled out what looked like a cross between a
compass and a pocket watch from one of the hidden pockets that were
liberally placed among to folds of her clothing. She scruitinised
it a bit, snorted and the stowed it away once more. "Are you
ready, your highness?"
"I suppose as ready as I will ever be," replied Abel. "If things
really have changed as much as you say, then I'm probably excited and
afraid in about equal parts."
He grinned. Maybe not that afraid...
"We shall see," Saledenre replied with an equally wide grin. She
dismounted from Hefin and took to prodding the air around her. It
reacted to her touch, coalescing at her fingertips in a myriad of
colour reminiscent of washing up liquid on oil.
Beside her, Hefin prowled, growing smaller and smaller with every step
until he was no bigger than a house cat. He laid his wings
against his back, creating two white patches of fur from his
shoulder blades to his haunches.
Saledenre knelt down so that feline could jump onto her shoulder,
looped the string of her bad on the other one, and the stood again,
turning to Abel.
"You might want to take hold of my hand for this bit."
"Right then," said Abel. He patted his horse on the neck. "Back to the castle with you. I'll be back soon!"
As Starfire turned and trotted back in the direction of Castle Poppy,
Abel slung his bag over his shoulder, walked over to where Saledenre
stood, and took her proffered hand.
Saledenre kneaded the air with her free hand for a few moments more and
then, as though pushing through a semi-solid object, the Eshu forced
her arm through the Veil. Saledenre had always likened the
sensation of passing from Arcadia to Mortalia by this method like
walking through warm syrup; there was some resistance which slowed
movement but other than that the sensation was warm and somewhat
Her grip tightened as she felt Abel waver slightly as the unusual
sensation hit him. If she lost him now, he might never be able to
find his way back. This was her gift, her ability to know exactly
which paths through the Veil to take to get where she wanted to go.
Pausing for a moment, regarding two paths that she could sense rather
than see, Saledenre decided upon the left one. They walked on for
what seemed to be an eternity, but which was not, until another
shimmering surface began to form in the distance. As they walked
towards it, Saledenre did not turn back to see how Abel was faring; she
needed to concentrate solely on their destination.
The unreal world-between-worlds of the Hedge faded away around them,
leaving Saledenre and Abel standing in a field not altogether unlike
the one they had left. The grass was shorter, though, and there
were more people. Lots more.
No hedgerow marked the boundaries here, though - a cast-iron fence
stood out to the faeries like a blinding aberration in the fabric of
reality. Beyond it was a blur, obscured by the iron, but
something-or-other - giant structures, perhaps - loomed above.
After a few seconds, sound finally filtered through to their
ears. An almost deafening roar surrounded them, mechanical noises
and human noises and animal noises, combining together into an
And finally, the smell. There was no freshness of Fairyland's
meadows here, no twinge of pollen and no brisk wind. The air was
stagnant, thick... recycled.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Hyde Park. Please remember to
keep you wits about you at all times and eyes peeled for light-fingered
individuals who make a pooka look mannerful and well-behaved."
Saledenre turned, took in a deep lungful of air and proceeded to stick
her tongue out and wrinkle her nose in disgust.
"It's not until you've been to Arcadia and back that you realise just
how rancid the air in this city really is," she told Abel before
tilting her head to one side. "Come on, this way."
Abel made to follow her, inadvisably copying her deep breath.
After a second's pause he coughed and spluttered and doubled over,
drawing as much attention as one can in London - brief glances from
passers-by before they nervously went back to their own business.
"Bad," he coughed, "idea. How can you breathe this stuff?"
Saledenre rolled her eyes, then hooked her hands under Abel's armpits
before hauling him to his feet. Somehow, despite the fact the
Arcadian prince was still wheezing and coughing, the Eshu managed to
support him until they reached the relative privacy afforded by the
drooping branches of a willow tree. Settling him down so his back
rested against the trunk of the tree, Saledenre pulled out a plastic
bottle filled with water from the Poppy estate's rivers and handed it
to her companion.
"This? This is nothing. Why, a hundred Mortalian years ago
the fog produced by coal fires in this city was so thick it could
kill! Now, you just sit there for a bit and see if you can get
used to this. It'll only get worse once we head out of the park
and I can't carry you all the way round London!"
"Right," said Abel, getting the hang of drinking the bottle after a brief moment of confusion.
"I suppose, then, that Serin must have ended up not far from
here. But in all this noise, all this... stuff. How're we
even going to begin looking for her?"
"Hmmm," Saledenre pressed her right index finger against her lips as
she considered where to begin. "I remember hearing that Serin
once brought a gypsy caravan into Arcadia. It caused quite a stir
even if Ataxia managed to get the scoop first," the last was said
through gritted teeth. Saledenre had always considered Ataxia to
be a lesser storyteller, and the fact that the rival bard had been much
in favour for a substandard tail rankled slightly.
"It would make sense that she would be passing herself off as one of
those... uhm... fortune tellers. You know, there are entire
'Psychic Fairs' now. Perhaps she might be using her gifts at one
of those. And the best thing is," Saledenre grinned, "we can ask
Sir Vir if there are any nearby. Well, that is to say we'll have
to give the request to his jester Google who will then ask Sir Vir."
Abel cast his eyes about the place, taking in the panorama of
multi-storey buildings that rose beyond the iron fences of Hyde Park.
"But where would we find him? This place looks like it's nothing but palaces! Do you know which one is Sir Vir's?"
The sharp look and raised eyebrow that Saledenre directed at the prince
all but spoke the words 'don't be silly'. "The great unwashed
public of London, nay the _WORLD_ petition Sir Ver for his knowledge
and wisdom. Do you think he would invite them all into his
palace? Would you mother, the great Dutchess Regara, allow her
serfs to enter the palace of House Poppy?!?"
Without waiting for Abel to answer what was a blatantly silly question,
Saledenre continued, "We must use the device known as a computer, which
I mentioned at dinner yesterday evening."
"Right. Yes, of course," he said, following Saledenre as they
left Hyde Park and ventured out into the bustle of Oxford Street on a
hot summer day.
Abel almost immediately got separated from Saledenre, and several times
she had to retrace her steps to find the man spacing out or standing
out of the way of the incessant rush of people-traffic.
Thankfully, though, he was easy to spot - his seven feet of faerie
height had diminished somewhat, but six foot six was still above the
majority of the crowd.
NOTE TO GM. HIS NAME IS ABEL, GODSDAMNIT. STOP WRITING "CAIN".
Growing weary of constantly losing her companion, Saledenre wove
between the crowds to catch up with Abel. With no warning, she
grabbed his arm and wrapped it around her shoulder, holding on when
The storyteller met the eyes of a woman headed in the opposite
direction. She strangers expression was one of sympathy and
You have one that likes to get lost too, huh? Saledenre nodded, a grin splashing across her lips, before she began to lead Abel to one side of the crowd.
"Stop fidgeting. This way you won't get lost. Just play
along," she told Abel, while her eyes searched the side of the street
for an internet cafÈ. Nothing down this one,
she thought before leading Abel onwards. The next street they had
more luck. "Ah, there we go." Her pace increased as she
ushered the fairy prince towards the small, tacky-looking internet cafÈ.
Abel seemed to get stuck just inside the door, looking back and forth
at the myriad of shining screens and blinking LEDs while Saledenre went
up to the counter to pay.
"Are these... e-lec-tric lamps?" Abel asked as the Eshu guided him over to one of the terminals. "What is this place?"
"It's an internet cafÈ," she replied as she reached into her pocket and
pulled out a five pound note before giving it to the man behind the
cash desk. Before Abel could ask any more questions, Saledenre
grabbed hold of his hand and whisked him towards a spare computer in
the corner of the room. Putting a hand on either of his
shoulders, she pushed the prince into the empty chair with enough force
as though to say Stay before she turned away to find a chair she could pull up next to him.
Saledenre borrowed a chair from in front of an unused computer with
minimal difficulty, sat down at her own terminal, and logged in.
Each click and keypress clearly mystified Abel, each prompting a
question that stuck half-formed in his throat as it was replaced by
another. By the time Saledenre reached her search results, he'd
given up entirely and just stared mystified at the screen.
"I think the term you're looking for is 'shiny'," Saledenre remarked,
her grin awash with mischief and a dash of kindly mockery. The
pooka would have understood her amusement, she thought to herself,
turning back to the stark, almost blinding synthetic glare of the
computer screen while her fingers flew over slightly stick keys.
"Now, I think searching for psychic faires on in London at the moment might be the best place to start."
With little effort that nevertheless confused the hell out of Abel,
Saledenre produced a comprehensive list of all the year's psychic,
paranormal and otherwise New Agey events in and around London.
Clearly a popular trade in the City, there was something almost every
weekend and this one was no exception.
A quick check of the computer's clock revealed it to be Saturday 16th
June, on which day there was supposed to be a "Festival of New Age
Crafts" by Camden Lock.
"Hopefully she's like a wasp to honey," Saledenre remarked, reaching
inside her voluminous robes and withdrawing a pen and paper. She
jotted down the exact location and the the pen and paper disappeared
once again into silken folds.
"Looks like we're going to Camden, you'll like it there, it's quirky,"
Saledenre continued, a bemused corner of her mind noting that her
entire being had already sped up as though it were on a sugar
rush. That's what London does to you, I guess.
"Is there anything else you'd like to ask before we tackle the Tube?"
"Yeah, I... um." Abel stuttered, still not having quite come to his
senses. He shook his head back and forth. "Okay, never
mind. Just one question. What's the 'tube'?"